rules-and-procedure

Senators Working the Umpire Already on Health Care Bill
Parliamentarian rulings could make or break GOP legislation

Sen. Bill Cassidy is among the senators looking to make sure any health legislation or amendments will comply with the Senate’s procedural rules. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

As House Republicans struggle to cobble together the votes to pass legislation to repeal and replace the 2010 health care law, members are already looking to navigate the Senate’s labyrinth of procedural rules that could make or break the measure. 

Senate Democrats are already setting up for the battle with the parliamentarian about which provisions could run up against the Byrd Rule, which requires budget reconciliation bills that can pass with a simple-majority vote to be primarily about spending and revenues, without extraneous matter.

The Supreme Court Confirmation Battle That Began 30 Years Ago
Three senators on Judiciary panel weathered watershed 1987 fight

Judge Robert Bork, nominated by President Ronald Reagan to be an associate justice of the Supreme Court, is sworn before the Senate Judiciary Committee at his confirmation hearing in September 1987. (John Duricka/AP File Photo)

In one of the more striking moments from the Senate confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch this week, Sen. Charles E. Grassley offered this advice:

Don’t answer every question.

Gorsuch: I Would Have ‘No Difficulty’ Ruling Against Trump
Tells Grassley it was a ‘softball’ question

Supreme Court Justice nominee Neil Gorsuch fist-bumps his nephew Jack on the second day of his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch called it an easy question Tuesday when asked if he would have any trouble ruling against President Donald Trump, who nominated him to the high court.

“That’s a softball, Mr. Chairman,” Gorsuch responded to Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa. “I have no difficulty ruling for or against any party, other than what the law and the facts in a particular case require.”

Opinion: Echoes of Watergate Could Spell Danger for Trump
But the bar for impeachment is high

Bipartisan consensus on impeaching the president, as was the case with President Richard M. Nixon’s Watergate scandal, can be reached only if the American people demand it, Holtzman writes. (CQ Roll Call file photo)

In 1974, the House Judiciary Committee voted to impeach President Richard M. Nixon, the only impeachment effort to force a president from office in our country’s history. Today, many Americans, alarmed at President Donald Trump’s conduct, want him to be impeached and removed from office.

As a member of the House Judiciary Committee in 1974, I found that impeachment was not easy or quick. Still, that impeachment effort may provide a useful road map for how to proceed today.

Agriculture Nominee Moves Closer to Confirmation Hearing
OGE releases Sonny Perdue’s ethics agreement and financial disclosures

Sonny Perdue served two terms as governor of Georgia. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images file photo)

Former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue agreed to extricate himself from a web of interests and restructure two family trusts to remove himself and his wife from active involvement if he wins confirmation as Agriculture secretary, according his disclosure documents at the Office of Government Ethics.

The release of Perdue’s financial disclosure and ethics agreement sets the stage for the Senate Agriculture Committee to schedule a confirmation hearing. The committee said last Friday it had received Perdue’s long awaited official nomination papers, nearly two months after President Donald Trump announced he planned to nominate him. It’s unclear if Perdue has completed a committee questionnaire that is typically part of the confirmation process. 

Mike Lee Doubts House GOP Health Plan Complies With Senate Rules
Utah senator cites abortion, insurance premium language

Sens. Mike Lee. left, and Rand Paul favor a vote on the 2015 repeal of the health care law. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Mike Lee is suggesting that a ban on federal funding for abortion in the House health care bill might not survive a procedural challenge on the Senate floor.

In an opinion piece for The Heritage Foundation’s Daily Signal, the Utah Republican wrote that under Senate rules, the House health care bill might not be compliant as a reconciliation bill (a budget measure that only requires a majority vote). He said provisions will need to be stripped to comply with the so-called Byrd Rule.

Senate Budget Rule Could Hamper GOP Push on Defense, Taxes
Republicans are already divided over how much to cut spending

Republicans on the House Budget Committee, led by Tennessee Rep. Diane Black, are already beginning to struggle with how much money to allocate to national defense and other funding categories as they work on the next budget resolution. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A little-known Senate budget rule could pose a huge challenge to the GOP’s top priorities of increasing defense spending and cutting taxes this year. 

Providing more funds to the military and rewriting the tax code both depend on the House and Senate agreeing to a fiscal 2018 budget resolution. The fiscal blueprint would set an enforceable topline for appropriators and provide reconciliation instructions allowing a tax overhaul to advance in the Senate with a simple 51-vote majority.

Nadler Faces Uphill Battle in Seeking Trump Financial Data
Judiciary Republicans set to block New York Democrat’s resolution

New York Rep. Jerrod Nadler says his resolution seeks to explore President Donald Trump’s “business entanglements and ties to Russia.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A partisan showdown over President Donald Trump’s potential conflicts of interest is set for the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, as Democrats led by Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York push for a vote on his resolution that would require the Justice Department to release documents about Trump’s financial practices. 

The measure set for markup, known as a resolution of inquiry, is likely to be blocked by Republicans, given their 23-17 advantage on the committee, and to be passed over for a floor vote. But it would again put lawmakers on record about Trump in the same way that Ways and Means Democrats pushed unsuccessfully to get the president’s tax returns released.

GOP Leaps on Congressional Review Act to Kill Obama Rules
Little-used law now wielded to tremendous effect, but could see legal challenges

Pennsylvania Rep. Glenn Thompson called his fellow Republican lawmakers’ use of the Congressional Review Act “the most underreported story in Washington today.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A law that’s been successfully used only once until now is the conduit for a whole lot of action on Capitol Hill.

Republicans in Congress are expected to send a stream of bills — most of which require a single sentence — to President Donald Trump’s desk, using a process known as the Congressional Review Act to repeal agency rules. The act was tucked into 1996 legislation tied to former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s famous “Contract with America.”

Hey (Rule) 19! Conservatives Push Senate Crackdown
Any move to control floor will likely further poison the well

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren makes the rounds for television news interviews in the Russell Rotunda on Wednesday after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s decision the previous night to invoke a rule to silence her during a debate on the nomination of Jeff Sessions to be attorney general. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate rule that directed Sen. Elizabeth Warren to stop talking could be deployed by Republicans to thwart a Democratic filibuster of Judge Neil Gorsuch, Donald Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court. But such a move could make the Senate environment even more toxic, if that’s possible.

Democrats panned the move by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his fellow Republicans on Tuesday night to require Warren, the liberal icon from Massachusetts, to take her seat for violating the chamber’s decorum, specifically Rule 19.